Jacob Bodner has successful fall-league stint with Royals

Published 11:34 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Jacob Bodner’s third professional baseball season ended in Surprise.

Bodner was invited to the prestigious Arizona Fall League, one of just seven total minor leaguers to go from the Kansas City Royals’ farm system and play for the Surprise Saguaros in Arizona.

“We played 30 games, I was out there roughly seven weeks,” Bodner said. “We went out there, got a few practices in, threw in a couple of instructional league games and then jumped right into the action. It was a good experience, played against some good competition and it was good to see where I stacked up against those guys.”

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Bodner finished his minor-league season with a 5-1 record for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, the High-A affiliate for Kansas City. He pitched in 29 games and rocked a 3.29 ERA over 54.2 innings pitched, striking out 70 batters to just 20 walks along the way.

In the Arizona Fall League, he and his Royals teammates teamed up with members of other organizations to field a complete team.

“Every minor league organization sends roughly five to eight guys, then on each team you have five different major league teams represented,” Bodner said. “So on our team, we had the Rays, Rangers, Royals, Cardinals and the Twins.”

Bodner said he was home for a week when he got the call to attend.

“To be honest with you, I didn’t expect it,” Bodner said. “Teams had already announced who was going to the fall league, we had already announced four guys that we were sending. I thought that was low but I wasn’t really for sure.

“I had been home for about a week, it was that Saturday after our season and our season ended the Monday before, and I got a call from our farm director for the minors. He said they’d like to send me out to the fall league and I didn’t really know what to say at first. He said they’d send me out in three weeks.”

Bodner said he worked out in Chicago with the University of Illinois-Chicago and instructors at the BASH Academy in Chicago to “get back in the groove of things.”

Then, it was wheels up to Surprise.

The Royals didn’t give Bodner a list of what they’d like to see from him in the fall league against some of the best minor-league player from across the country, at all levels. They just told him to go out and pitch.

“They didn’t really say, they just told me to go out there and compete and do the best I can,” Bodner said. “That’s what I did. They didn’t really say ‘we want you to do this.’ A lot of teams really don’t just because they don’t want to give people false hope or if they can’t fulfill a promise. Just because there’s so many guys in an organization. But it was definitely an honor to go there and play, being one of the few selected out of the organization.”

And Bodner performed in similar fashion to the way he performed in Wilmington: He pitched in 11 games and earned a team-high two saves. He finished four games for the Saguaros.

“Overall, I did well, outside of one outing where I didn’t do the best,” Bodner said. “That happened to be the outing on TV. But other than that, I did really well. I was pleased with the results I had and how I was able to go out there and compete against those guys. Their talent level was awesome, so it was awesome to see how I stacked up against those guys. It’s something to look forward to and work even harder in the offseason for.”

Bodner’s one bad outing came on Nov. 11, where he recorded just two outs and gave up four runs. Outside of that outing, he gave up just one run across 10 innings pitched and struck out eight batters.

Although Bodner’s now officially in his offseason, he said he started throwing about two weeks ago in preparation for the upcoming year.

“I head back roughly March 1, give or take a week,” Bodner said. “So right now I’ve been lifting every day during the week and I just started throwing a couple weeks ago. Just throwing and lifting every day, keeping my body in shape and getting my arm in shape as we move forward.”